In the United States, the root vegetable known as beets is referred to as beetroot in the rest of the gardening world. This distinction helps differentiate the deep red beetroots commonly consumed from the larger, elongated white sugar beet primarily cultivated for sugar production.
Both beetroot and sugar beet belong to the same family, but they possess distinct nutritional characteristics. In this article, we’ll focus on the beetroots that gardeners can grow in their own gardens, perfect for salads, side dishes, pickles, and various culinary creations.
Beetroots are scientifically classified as Beta vulgaris and belong to the Goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae). Contrary to the popular association with deep red beets, these root vegetables come in a diverse range of colors.
Beyond the classic red, beetroots can exhibit shades of yellow, white, and even stripes! A prime example is the Chioggia beet, boasting captivating concentric pink and white stripes on the inside. Furthermore, some white beet varieties are considered table beets, similar to their colorful counterparts. Among these are the cultivars Avalanche and Albino. It is important to note that while most white beets are typically sugar beets, these particular cultivars are not, although they still offer a pleasant sweetness and are well-suited for cooking and canning purposes.
Beets are a versatile root vegetable that comes in various types, each with distinct colors, shapes, and flavors. Here are some common types of beets:
Red Beet : This is the most common type of beet found in grocery stores and gardens. It has a vibrant red-purple color and a sweet, earthy flavor. Red beets are often cooked, roasted, pickled, or used raw in salads.
Golden Beet : Golden beets are similar to red beets in taste and texture but have a bright golden-yellow flesh and a milder, sweeter flavor. They are a bit less earthy and are delicious roasted or used in salads.
Chioggia Beet : Also known as Candy Stripe or Bull’s Eye Beet, Chioggia beets have a distinctive red and white-striped flesh that looks stunning in salads and on plates. Their flavor is slightly sweet and mild.
White Beet: White beets have a pale ivory-colored flesh and a sweeter and milder flavor compared to red beets. They are less common but can be a delightful addition to various dishes.
Cylindra Beet : Cylindra beets have an elongated cylindrical shape, making them easy to slice and ideal for pickling. They have a sweet taste and are often used in soups and salads.
Baby Beets: These are simply young, tender beets harvested before reaching full maturity. Baby beets can be any color (red, golden, or other varieties) and are prized for their delicate texture and flavor.
Albino Beet: Also known as white or sugar beets, albino beets have a white flesh and a milder flavor. They are often used for sugar production but can also be cooked and eaten like other beet varieties.
Forono Beet: This type of beet is elongated and cylindrical, much like the Cylindra beet, but with a darker red color and a sweeter taste.
Detriot Beet : Detriot beets are a popular heirloom variety known for their round shape, dark red color, and sweet flavor.
These are just some of the many beet varieties available, and each one brings its unique qualities to the table. Whether you prefer the classic red beet or like to explore more exotic varieties, beets can be a colorful and nutritious addition to your meals.